Suarez's handball was not cheating. The definition of cheating, as it pertains to a game, is breaking the rules SECRETLY. So as to not get caught and suffer the consequences of doing so.
He did not perform his act secretly. He used his hand openly and fully expecting the consequence of such an action. He, at the spur of the moment had to decide between two actions, whether to let the ball sail in and lose the game, or to block it with his hand and allow for his goalie to be given a second chance to block it on the ensuing kick. He chose the latter rather than the former. He was playing by the rules that are in place for either situation and simply chose wisely.
So to call this an act of cheating rather than just a brilliant strategic move done within the rules is akin, in American football, to calling a defensive back a cheater for tackling a receiver in the end zone BEFORE he catches the ball, preferring the penalty of the opposing team getting another crack for a touchdown at the 1 yard line rather than letting the receiver score one right then and there.
Same could be said on offense of a quarterback who intentionally grounds a pass rather than risk an interception by instead throwing it to a receiver crowded with defenders.
To call this an act of cheating would be akin, in baseball, to calling a pitcher a cheater for intentionally allowing the opposing team's slugger to gain first base via 4 outside pitches rather than risk throwing targeted strikes only to see him slam the ball out for a home run.
Same could be said on offense of a batter who intentionally flies out so a teammate could easily score from third base before the outfielder can throw it all the way in for the tag.
To call this an act of cheating would even be akin to letting an opponent take your queen in chess in order to get him into a board position that eventually traps his king, and thereby loses the game.
There are, of course, many other examples, some of which I am sure you could come up with sports played in your area, but you get the picture.
Thing is, ALL these above mentioned strategic moves are performed so regularly that it is to the point that they are now just considered intelligent acts of strategy that prefers the risk of the penalties that result, to the prevailing risk that would occur otherwise. Nobody even gives a second thought to any of them as an unsportsmanlike act. They are a part of the game, and accepted as such. Therefore, one performing such a move certainly is not breaking the rules, but simply playing by them in a different manner. If anything, it makes the game more exciting to follow.
A handball in soccer is no different, as long as it isn't done covertly as to avoid the penalty, hence, avoid the rules for it and the game. If the latter isn’t the case, then it is not cheating, but, rather, yet another example of a bold piece of open strategy by a quick thinking player to keep his team alive in, in Suarez's case, the World Championship, much like the above examples are.
To be honest with you, the reason I used this example to illustrate my contention with unwritten rules, such as your "rules of fair play" is because I know very well that Europeans had a hard time with Suarez's act, while the rest of the world didn't, finding this out while going at it with countless of others in other forums during the final week of the Cup. It was an interesting phenomenon, and the conclusion that I came away with from those discussions was that the reason Europeans had a harder time with it was because they, indeed, have different “unwritten rules” that the rest of the world didn't exactly find reverent likewise, or even knew about. One of these is the handball, which, apparently was an absolute "no, no" among Europeans no matter what the advantage a use of it might actually have. It didn't matter if it was written down or not. The rest of the world, however, simply saw it as strategic in the same manner as the other examples listed above.
The problem with such unwritten "code" is that rest of the world, including, of course, Uruguay, couldn't understand what the outcry was, because they don't have this same unwritten code themselves, a code that was primarily fostered in Europe during the sport's lengthy history, but not necessarily elsewhere. Therefore, anyone entering into the sport later can only go by what IS written, letter by letter, and play accordingly to try and win the game under that.
In short, not every participant has the same unwritten rules as everyone else. This is why rules must be written down and are.
And if someone doesn't like how such a participant plays by such written rules, because of some unwritten rule that that participant didn't know, or care, was so taboo, then simply change the rule as it is written rather than whine or complain about it.
Sportsmanship certainly has its place, but its removal does not occur in instances like these. Players are still trying gain an edge over the competition, teams are trying to win matches and championships, as are coaches. To rob them of the ability to do so with intelligent, albeit divergent, strategy within written rules would actually be more unsportsmanlike, in my opinion. Otherwise, you might as well consider any attempt to win as being unsportsmanlike.
Believe me, I am a elementary school physical education teacher, and I constantly instill concepts of sportsmanship almost as fervently as the concepts involved learning of physical skills. At this age and level, these two things take precedence over the winning of games, as competitive games are not the focus. In addition to being taught the proper form of locomotor movements, throwing, catching, hitting, and kicking, the kids learn timeless concepts of sportsmanship, such as cooperative play, congratulatory words, trying their best, and acceptance of failure with their head still up. The same could be said of sports leagues set up for kids. Coaches in such leagues often focus on getting everyone to participate rather than only utilizing the best athletes to win the game.
However, as the kids grow older, into their teens and on to adulthood they learn not only how to utilize such skills in more competitive sports league play for the more real purpose of winning, but learn how to utilize strategy in the process of doing so. Ideas of sportsmanship are still carried out, but many are done so in a more constructive manner towards winning. They learn that the other team will do what it can by the rules to defeat them and that this is to be accepted and simply countered, without complaint.
This even becomes more expected once they reach adulthood and people are actually employed and paid to participate in sports and only keep their jobs if they successfully defeat their opponents. Coaches are regularly canned if they don’t win. Livelihoods then become at stake.
And to ask for one to follow oftentimes unknown “unwritten rules”, even if still following written rules, at the risk of losing their job, is much more unsportsmanlike and downright ridiculous, in my opinion.
Change the rules if you don’t like how somebody plays by them, rather than being a sore loser about it. I think it was a much worse display of poor sportsmanship for England to do the latter in their mere request of the Indians than it would have been for India to have not granted their request.
Actually, I fully understand a lot of what you say in your response. Firstly though, I'm afraid I can't comment on the rules or ethics of American Football because I simply don't know enough about them. I bow to your superior knowledge there, but I would point out that they were surely drafted by non-Europeans and therefore written to a different set of sporting values.
I am quite aware that a number of countries.... almost exclusively in the Americas.... have no understanding of the European concept of "Fair Play", although many South Americans who have come to make a lot of money playing football (real football, not armoured rugby.... and we were calling our game football while Americans were slaughtering each other at Gettysburg, whereas the Princeton vs Rutgers match didn't take place until 1869 so please acknowledge and respect our precedence in the nomenclature) in Europe have come to understand, and even enjoy, the principles of fair play to which we aspire.
I understand where you're coming from when you talk of cheating as a form of strategy. The American concept of sport is often quite different to that of Europeans. I once conducted a poll on the subject on another forum. I set two questions under the heading "What is sport". The questions were:
A. Sport is a part of the entertainment industry the purpose of which is to enrich the participants and organisations connected with whilst providing leisure to the masses
B. Sport is a contest between two or more individuals or teams, played to an agreed set of rules and common values, for the purpose of achieving an honourable and fair result.
Not surprisingly, within the discussion group this question was set, the North and South Americans (spookily, with the exception of severals Canadians) argued strongly for option A, whereas the British, Australian and other Europeans argued passionately for Option B.
It caused quite a row, I can tell you..!!
The core difference is in the attitude towards winning. Americans are determined to win at all costs. The result is everything. Nobody remembers the guy with the silver medal.
To Europeans, the result is still highly important, but we have a strong sense that it should be achieved with honour and dignity. Better to lose than to win dishonourably.
In 1986, Diego Maradona deliberately cheated in a World Cup Quarter Final in Mexico City between England and Argentina. He handled the ball into the goal and thus set Argentina on the way to winning the match. It was the most blatant act of cheating in world cup history and he has become notorious in this country for it. Indeed, today, small children who play the game today, call that form of cheating "Doing a Maradona". And yet, he then scored a goal so sublime in its brilliance, that British viewers voted it the greatest goal of all time...!!
We despised what he did for the first goal, but stood up and applauded him to the rafters for his second. How does that happen..?
Argentina won that world cup in 1986, and from your comments I would gather you would applaud them for that. You have no qualms that a better team (and Bobby Robson's England WERE a better team than that Argentina side) was eliminated from the competition unfairly because the only man in the 125'000 capacity stadium who didn't see the handball was the referee..!!
You talk about the laws of the game being sacrosanct. Well, OK, let's talk about the laws of football, and cricket. You will see that the spirit of fair play is, actually, written into the laws of both games.
Association Football, Law 12 (Fouls and misconduct):
A player will be cautioned and shown the yellow card (or red card for a second or subsequent cautionable offence) if, in the opinion of the referee his is guilty of Unsporting Conduct.
Examples of Unsporting Conduct is defined in the laws of the game but are too lengthy to list here. See the link.
In cricket, the principle of fair play is not only included in the laws, but is made the direct responsibility of the Captains, Quote from the Laws of Cricket:
THE PREAMBLE – THE SPIRIT OF CRICKET
Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that
it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.
Here is one you may find interesting, from Law 42:
15. Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery
The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to
attempt to run out the non-striker. The ball shall not count in the
Now, this law makes it legal to attempt to run out a batsman before the ball is bowled... quite legal... and yet, no bowler ever attempts to do it... Why..? Because it's considered "Ungentlemanly". In the 150 year history of test cricket, no batsman has ever been dismissed in this way. Can you comprehend such a thing..? I'm trying to give you an example of the mindset of sportsmen here. A perfectly legitimate tactic is spurned because of principles that transcend the desire to win.
What you called Andrew Strauss "Whining", was in fact, him taking his responsibility to the spirit of the game seriously and making a perfectly legitimate - within the laws - approach to his opposite number who actually agreed with him..!! And this was UNANINIMOUS with the entire Indian team.
Note Article 4 of the preamble of the Laws of Cricket, which says:
4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:
? Your opponents
? Your own captain and team
? The role of the umpires
? The game's traditional values
Note the last of these: The game's traditional values.... These things are intensely important to us, and not only Europeans, but Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders.... all non-Europeans, but whose sporting institutions were strongly influenced by the British expatriates that introduced these sports to their countries.
The British invented these sports, and we did so with the spirit of fair play to the forefront. To us, fair and decent play is far more important than any victory medal or winners cup.
Sadly, we were unable to influence the Americas and that is where the "Win At All Costs" mentality has been nurtured to such a degree that nothing eles matters, and is seen as a virtue in itself.
You talk, quite pragmatically, of using (what we see as) cheating as a form of tactical awareness..... that the end justifies the means. I'm afraid we don't see it that way. We'd rather be able to hold our heads up at the end of the day and say that if we lost, we lost with dignity and honour.
I'll leave you with the first verse of a poem by Henry Newbolt which says it all:
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"
Or how about the Olympic motto:
It's not about the winning, it's about the taking part.